MARTINS FERRY - Union Local capped quite a Buckeye 8 weekend here Saturday night high atop the Purple City.
The state-ranked Jets (9-0) pulled away from Martins Ferry late in the fourth quarter in posting a 60-50 decision before a boisterous crowd inside the Tolbert Gymnasium.
With the hard-fought victory, Union Local equaled the school record for the start to a season with its ninth win in as many tries. The Jets defeated St. Clairsville Friday night.
"It's a credit to the kids," Union Local head coach Ben Porter acknowledged. "They make the plays and our kids did that at the end of the game. As a coach, you can only put the players in position, they have to make the plays."
Deadlocked at 43 with five minutes remaining to play, Union Local went on an 11-2 run that bumped the count to 54-45 and all but sealed the deal.
"They made big play after big play after big play down the stretch," veteran Martins Ferry head coach Jeff Sabatino said of the Jets. "I told Ben they are as good as advertised, and maybe a little better than I thought. They don't have too many weaknesses offensively. They put five guys on the floor and all of them have to be accounted for.
"Just about every time we cheated a little to one guy or another, we left someone open and they finished, especially late in the fourth quarter."
Trenton Tipton's offensive putback ignited the outburst, which also included two free throws by big man Colton McKivitz; a trifecta from Gavin Porter; a layup by Tipton off a nifty feed from Porter; and Eric Dunfee's lone basket of the game off a Tipton helper.
"I've said it over and over that our kids don't care who scores the points," Coach Porter said. "We played pretty well tonight in spurts."
The Purple Riders (4-6) only basket in the 3:15 drought came from Robert Vargo.
A backdoor cut and bucket by McKivitz and four free throws from Porter capped the scoring.
McKivitz, a 6-7 junior, led all scorers in the game with 20 points, including 16 in the middle two periods when the Jets started their comeback. He was joined in double figures by Porter, who had 16, and six assists. Tipton handed out five assists and charted three steals.
Vargo paced Martins Ferry with 14 points. James Edwards and Arjay Burress each tallied 11. Jake Barritt had eight points, a like number of assists and half-a-dozen steals.
Both teams took pretty good care of the basketball as they combined for 19 turnovers, with Union Local having 10 of them, but only one in the fourth quarter and four in the second half.
The Jets meshed 24 of 42 shots from the floor for 57 percent. They recorded 15 assists on those two dozen baskets.
Martins Ferry led 26-23 off the glass.
The Purple Riders avoided the sweep with a win in the JV game.
Union Local looks for a perfect 10 Tuesday when western Belmont County rival Barnesville visits 'The Hangar' in Morristown. Martins Ferry hosts Edison the same night.
Union Local 60, Martins Ferry 50
UNION LOCAL (60) - McDiffitt 3 0-0 9; Porter 5 4-5 16; T. Tipton 3 0-0 7; Dunfee 1 0-0 2; McKivitz 9 2-2 20; C. Tipton 0 0-0 0; Paulick 3 0-0 6; Totals: 24-42 6-8. MARTINS FERRY (50) - Vargo 5 4-7 14; Barritt 3 0-0 8; Appolloni 2 0-0 4; Edwards 4 2-2 11; Burress 5 1-2 11; Bass 1 0-0 2; Agnew 0 0-1 0; Totals: 20-45 7-12.
Three-Point Goals: Union local 6 (McDiffitt 3, Porter 2, T. Tipton); Martins Ferry 3 (Barritt 2, Edwards)
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